West Virginia is giving its vaccine incentive program a boost to get more residents immunized from the coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Tuesday.
All residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine will be enrolled in the chance to win a college scholarship, a tricked-out truck, or hunting rifles, in addition to a $1.588 million grand prize. The program, which will run from June 20 through Aug. 4, will be paid for through federal pandemic relief funds.
"The faster we get people across the finish line the more lives we save. That's all there is to it," Justice said. "If the tab just keeps running the cost is enormous. The hospitalizations are enormous. We have to get all of our folks across the finish line."
Justice announced in April that West Virginians ages 16 to 35 who got vaccinated could get a $100 savings bond. The immunization drive in the state has since drastically slowed after showing a strong early start.
The state reports that 51.1% of West Virginia's population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Justice hopes the state's new offers of a $588,000 second prize, weekend vacations to state parks, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, and custom hunting shotguns will boost that number.
West Virginians who have been fully vaccinated will need to register to be entered to win the newly announced prizes at a later date.
The vaccine incentive scheme has taken off across the nation as governors attempt to entice residents who may be reluctant into getting vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported as of Tuesday night that 40.9% of the population has been fully vaccinated. President Biden is aiming for at least 70% of the U.S. adult population to have one vaccine shot and 160 million adults to be fully vaccinated by July 4..
Ohio, one of the first states to adopt a lottery campaign for vaccinated adults, reported an uptick in administered vaccines following its announcement. The week after the lottery was announced, vaccinations soared 55% for residents ages 20 to 49. For those in the 16 to 17 age group, Ohio saw a 94% jump.